Alumni News

Applying the Plan in Unexpected Ways: Ahmad Yassir ’20

Ahmad Yassir ’20 stayed in the town of Bennington after graduation and works as a digital advertising and marketing specialist for the Bennington Banner. He had an amazing 2023.

It started in January 2023, when Ahmad Yassir was named Young Professional of the Year in a Business by the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce. In April, he presented at a Southwestern Vermont Regional Chamber of Commerce “Lunch & Learn” on small business marketing about using free web-based platforms such as Canva and Meta to boost local social media marketing. The Vermont Professionals of Color Network Spotlighted him in a May 1 profile. Then, on May 23, the Southern Vermont Economy Summit recognized him as one of eighteen Southern Vermont Emerging Leaders. He also won the New England Newspaper Association awards for Best Media Kit and for Best Events Promotions. Most recently, the Vermont Business Magazine chose him as one of their 2023 Rising Stars, the Vermont version of “40 under 40.” At 26, he is among the youngest people to be honored. 

Ahmad Yassir '20 at Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce
Yassir (center) at the Southwestern Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting 2023 with Jordan Brechenser (left) and Matt Harrington. 


Just a few years into his career, he has become an authority on publicity communications and advertising and their intersection with community building and business success. While this isn’t the career path he imagined for himself, it fulfills his needs for creativity, community, and impact. On an early winter day, we caught up with him to learn more about his path and his work now. 

Q: What did you study at Bennington? 

Yassir: I applied to Bennington College to study biology; however, after my first semester, I decided to fully focus on visual arts and public action. I come from a background where I love Eastern and Middle Eastern art, which is multidisciplinary. Coming to a place where I could learn about architecture, animation, drawing, and painting was a good way to integrate all of my visual motifs and to have my twist on it in a way, to combine the rigorous traditional aspects of Middle Eastern art with something new. And the public action and public policy piece of it was helpful so I could learn about being involved in discussion-based classes and so my art would have stronger content. 

Q: How did you spend your Field Work Terms?

Yassir: I took advantage of all my Field Work Terms to develop a portfolio in international teaching. I went to Beirut to teach. I went to Turkey. And I went to Somaliland, an independent part of Somalia, to teach. I designed classes around art and conflict resolution and peace building. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to continue mixing education with visual arts. 

Q: Your studies seem pretty different from what you do now. Are they? 

Yassir: I feel working with regional news outlets is the best mix of both art and public action. Currently, I have a great creative outlet. I am developing art to communicate the different sides of Southern Vermont and the region. Also, on the public policy side, I work with organizations that are changemakers in the region. I am on the boards of Head Start because I still want a connection with education, and the Better Bennington Corporation, the designated downtown organization. We collaborate with the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce on a lot of events to bring visitors to the area and give a boost to the local economy.  

Q: What’s most fulfilling about your work now? 

Yassir: When I was doing education, I would rather have a class with ten students, where I can measure my impact and how much I am contributing to their growth, than a class of thirty people. The same thing translates when it comes to my current work in media. In a tight-knit community, you can measure its impact. I feel like my desire to make an impact, my interest in visual arts, and my experience in community building are coming together with my current career path. 

Q: What’s it like to live in Southern Vermont as a recent graduate? 

Yassir: I think Bennington is on pace with my nightlife that ends at 11 pm! This area is so well connected. This area has a cool balance of tradition and innovation. Like Garlic Town has been happening since 1995. But there is always something new every year and space for involvement and opinion and perspective. That’s how I see it. In terms of making friends and a community and developing relationships, I find it easy here, because you run into the same people over and over. I still have connections with Bennington College people. I still come here every weekend to play soccer. I am part of the Shires Young Professionals. They organize mixers and other opportunities to meet people under 40. My work is also community-oriented, so I am always talking to and meeting with people. 

Ahmad Yassir '20 at Vermont Business Magazine's Rising Star Event
Yassir at Vermont Business Magazine's Rising Star Event

Q: How has the town of Bennington changed since you were a student?

Yassir: Bennington has been doing great since the pandemic. Now I am part of the local community and the business community. I don’t want to have the feeling of missing out when I see Bennington growing so fast. Just in the past two years, five new restaurants opened up. I love the fact that I am not coming back to Bennington and recognizing that there are new places; I was a part of these businesses’ start. In the past two years, there has been a great increase in local business owners who are professionals of color. There has been an increase in younger people who are staying in the area because they see the things that are happening. If I can contribute a little, I would love to be here. 

Q: Looking back at your time at Bennington College, is there anything in particular you remember or use in your daily life now? 

Yassir: There are a lot of things. I literally think of one of my favorite faculty members at Bennington every day because of my current job and a class that I took with him: Robert Ransick and Social Practices in Art. For one of his classes, he had a weekly assignment that was “go to downtown Bennington and talk to strangers.” That was cool for a faculty member to remove the Bennington College bubble and get us integrated into the community. I think of Robert Ransick a lot. He also taught me that I can learn everything pretty fast. I am a fast learner, which makes me flexible. 

Q: You are also an artist and designer, a teacher, a social practitioner, and a consultant. What projects are you most excited about right now? 

Yassir: It’s still all over the place. That’s another thing I like and why I think a Bennington College education was perfect for me: I am project-oriented, community-oriented, and open to opportunities. It is the same thing as a Bennington College education. I would have gotten super bored at any other college. I would have gotten super bored at any other job. 

This is a big value in the Bennington College education, the structure of “here is your advisor. Here is your primary faculty. Here is your Plan Committee. Here is your Visual Arts Review Committee.” Now, I see my work translate the same way. My mentors are Jordan Brechenser, the publisher and CEO of Vermont News & Media; Susan Plaisance, the Bennington County sales director; and Matt Harrington, the executive director of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce. They are like my professional faculty. In the same way I would ask faculty about random things, I ask them. They keep me up to speed knowing local politics, local relationships, things that they have tried in the past. 

My Bennington College education taught me that advisors and mentors are important. I left college and met these three people, local community pillars sharing their experiences with me. I was able to recognize these local changemakers and identify that I want to learn from them. They teach me and give me agency. It is a positive and healthy environment to be in both personally and professionally.